As a part of Natick's 350th Anniversary, the Natick Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee thanks Maureen Sullivan for sharing her draft guide (major re-write: April 15, 2001; Dell Cemetery newspaper article added June 2002). Use it to make your walks in Natick more enjoyable!
We and Maureen welcome your feedback. Please send your comments to me one by one (“Change A to B”, etc.), so we can splice them together without too much confusion.
–A. Richard Miller <TheMillers@millermicro.com>
Basic Distance: Approximately 1 mile.
Hazards: Mostly sidewalk; two sets of traffic lights (intersection of 135/27; intersection of 27 and Bacon); some busy streets off to the left, such as Lake Street/Washington Avenue and Bacon; stay to the left.
Facilities: No public restrooms outside downtown, although Route 9/27 Mall is close by. Pay phones at several locations downtown and at White Hen Pantry.
Highlights: Along Route 27 -- Clark’s Block and the Masonic Block, both built just after the Natick Fire of 1874, as well as the Walcott Building, built in 1888; railroad tracks, originally laid in the 1830s and depressed into present location as part of massive project in 1890s; H.P. Harwood and Sons baseball factory building on Walnut Street, built in 1858; Grandmother’s Mince Meat and the Natick Condominiums, once part of the Pebbles shoe factory; Natick Paperboard; U.S. Army Research and Development Center (Natick Labs), off 27 onto Kansas Street; the Bacon House, oldest building in Natick, built in 1704 (now the Mitchell Funeral Home); Quartermaster Tracks that parallel Route 27, which may become a recreational path; Murphy Playground, site of former Murphy School; Felch House, corner of North Main and Bacon, built in 1801; Route 9, built as the Worcester Turnpike in the 1830s.
Suggested Side Trips: Down Middlesex Avenue and cross Washington Avenue onto Middlesex Path, which parallels Route 135; ends up close to VFW building. Tree-lined path, some dirt bike trails as well.
Down Washington Avenue, over the Taddeo Bridge, to Pegan Cove Park, which connects pathways from that side of Washington Avenue to Lake Cochituate.
Up Washington Avenue to the end, up Route 27, left onto Kansas Street, to the last right (Second Street); cross Fisher to Loker, then either bear right on Loker to pedestrian bridge and back onto Bacon and Route 27, or bear left onto Arcadia Road and hook up with the trails surrounding Lake Cochituate. This features some very nice neighborhoods and several homes at least 100 years old. If you head up Loker to Bacon and go to the left, you can see where Bacon ends mere yards from Route 9.
From Washington Avenue, take right onto 27 and cross onto Grove. Head up Grove toward the Walnut Hill School and explore this neighborhood of very fancy houses. Just down the Street from Walnut Hill, toward Route 9, is Loker Park, which at one time was the site of the Bacon Elementary School. Beyond that is Fisk Methodist Church. Continue on Walnut toward Route 9 (which is mostly sidewalk), and you’ll see more large homes as well as the western boundary of the Town Forest.
Bearing left on Walnut, across from Loker Park, are some very attractive side streets, including Parkman and Chestnut as well as Bacon. These all connect to some very attractive neighborhoods, as well as some nice old houses.
Bearing right on Walnut, go down Belvedere Road and onto Bacon. To your right are the athletic fields of Walnut Hill, as well as the Keiter Performing Arts Center (which used to be a gymnasium). This is sidewalk all the way to Marion Street; the other side includes the southern edge of the Town Forest. There are some trails leading into the forest and the best of these is located across from the intersection of Bacon and Marion.
Basic Distance: Approx. 2.25 miles.
Hazards: All sidewalk on right side of the road; heavy traffic, especially at intersection of Route 135 and Union Street.
Facilities: No public rest rooms outside downtown Natick; pay phones at several locations along Route 135, including Central Street Grill and Town Line Liquors.
Highlights: Morse Institute Library, original building erected in 1873 and one of the few buildings to survive the Natick Fire of 1874; Police/Fire building and Town Hall, both built in late 1990s; St. Patrick’s Parish, built in 1892; Natick Armory, built in 1912 for the local companies of the Massachusetts Volunteer Militia; Lincoln Square, which divides Route 135 from Marion Street; Kathleen Kennedy Senior Center,/Natick District Court, originally the Lincoln Elementary School, which was built in 1949; rail tracks currently used for Amtrak, MBTA commuter rail service and Conrail originally built in 1830s, with a depression of the track performed in the 1890s. Route 135 to the Wellesley town line is mostly residential, with some businesses on the westbound side. There are several side streets, most of these short, but making for a pleasant side trip, as they are quiet and tree-lined. Just after the Wellesley town line is Pond Road, which links 135 to Route 16 and is a favorite with walkers and cyclists.
Suggested Side Trips: Route 135, across from Common and left onto Washington Street. From Washington to South Avenue, there is the Morse Institute and several businesses, including Agostino’s Restaurant. Part of the building on the corner of Washington and South Avenue is part of the old Natick Theater which was built in the late 19th century; it later became Kemp’s Bowlaway, which was a part of downtown for nearly 40 years. Right onto South Avenue is mostly businesses, with residential toward the very end; Casey’s Diner is located here. At the end of South Avenue are several houses dating from the mid- to late-19th Century, some of which are listed with the Natick Historical Commission. Right onto Dewey, which connects to Route 135 and is a short walk from Marion Street.
Marion Street across the “Tilly” Ciccarelli Bridge -- one of the oldest bridges of its type in Massachusetts -- straight to Bacon Street. Here you will find one of the highest points in town, Pegan Hill, as well as a house dating back to 1748. This street is sidewalked; at the end of Marion, you can take a left onto Walnut and walk past Walnut Hill School, take a right onto Bacon and walk past Tilly and Salvy’s Farm Stand as well as the Jehovah Witness Hall, and proceed to the vicinity around Oak Street.
At the corner of Bacon and Oak is the Lilja School, one of several schools in town built shortly after World War II. In fact, most the surrounding neighborhoods were built up around this time, and many of the side streets reflect this era -- Eisenhower Drive, MacArthur Road, Nimitz Circle. These are all well-established, quiet neighborhoods. Toward Route 9, you’ll come across one end of the Town Forest trail as well as Jennings Pond and Little Jennings Pond. Jennings Pond was recently dredged after years of neglect and pollution, and is once again a nice spot to walk around. Head up Jennings Pond Road and explore many of the streets that border not only the pond, but Wellesley as well.
Another route that begins at Marion continues with a left at North Avenue; while hilly, it is sidewalked, and the route features many fine houses from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It also has several side streets, including Rice, which leads onto Harvard Street Extension; Tibbetts and Franklin, which lead onto Harvard Street; Washington Street, which goes from Route 135 to Shattuck Street; and on to Route 27 past the Outdoor Store and the former Harwood Baseball Factory as well as the commuter rail station.
From North Avenue, take a right onto Walnut Street. As you approach Walnut Hill School, note the many residences from the late 19th and early 20th century. If you take a left onto Grove Street and head toward Route 27, or left onto Winnemay and onto Willow, there are more of these elegant houses, many of them restored. This is a hilly area, with sidewalks on one side of the street. As you walk down Grove toward Charles, you’ll come across a set of wonderful late 19th century Victorian houses, some of these renovated just within the past few years.
Another area to explore begins when you take a right from Walnut onto Highland Street. With the school on one side and nice old houses on the other, this is a nice walk to take in the autumn. From the top of the hill, look to the south and you can see the church steeples of St. Pat’s and First Congregational. Continue onto Highland Avenue and see one of the town’s last greenhouses; head down Florence and see the house (#39) where Horatio Alger died in 1899. Head back along Harvard toward North Avenue, and you’ll be at the foot of Blueberry Hill. There’s a trail in that vicinity which is easily accessible from Harvard Street Extension (right onto Vale, up North, left on Rice, down Harvard Street Extension).
This route includes the Henry Wilson Historic District, which features many beautiful houses built when Natick reached its zenith as a shoe manufacturing center in the 19th century. Even outside the district, there are neighborhoods which have a few pleasant surprises.
Distance: Approx. 2.5 miles (approx. one mile
Route 27 intersection to Speen Street).
Hazards: Mostly sidewalk from downtown to Lake Cochituate/Fisk Pond area; breakdown area from ponds through intersection with Mill Street (suggested alternative walk - from Route 27 up Pond Street to intersection of Mill Street and Route 135).
Facilities: Few public facilities outside downtown; pay phones available at Roche Bros. shopping plaza and at several other locations along Route 135.
Basic Route: Begin at Natick Common, side
Bakery on the Common. Cross Main Street (Route 27) and proceed up West
Central Street (Route 135). To visit the Henry Wilson Historic
proceed up Route 135, using either sidewalk; many of these fine
houses served as residences to the town’s leading merchants,
and politicians; some have been registered as historical sites by the
Historical Commission. These include the Henry Wilson House
in 1844), which was home to the 18th Vice President of the United
and is currently used by the Natick Visiting Nurse Association; the
Rice House (1846), named after one of the town’s leading businessmen of
the 19th century; the Clark House (1870), a very handsome late Gothic
which now houses offices; and the Randall Farm House (1850); the rest
the houses are listed in Appendix 1. The district ends a short distance
after Cemetery Street, and so does the sidewalk; to reach Mill Street,
either proceed up Route 135, using the left side of the road (the side
closest to Fisk Pond) or take a left onto Cemetery, which connects to
Street; take a right onto Pond and proceed past the cemeteries; cross
Street and Fiske Lane; proceed to lights at intersection of Pond and
Mill Street begins at the other side of the lights. Proceed up Mill; a
shopping plaza will be on your left. Go past the West Natick Baptist
West Park will be further up on your left. The intersection with Route
135 will be in front of you. When you reach the intersection, the Henry
Wilson Shoe Shop will be in front of you on the left.
To reach the Framingham line, take a left on Route 135. Cross Stacey Street; cross Wellesley Avenue; cross Home Avenue; cross Kendall Lane; cross Linwood. The Framingham town line is just past Beaver Brook. The distance is about one mile from the Common to Speen Street; approximately two miles to the town line.
For another route up 135 from downtown to the VFW, try the Middlesex Path. Access is off Washington Avenue, just across from Middlesex Avenue; the other end comes out in a lot adjacent to the VFW, which is about a half-mile from the intersection of Route 135 and Speen Street (note – this part of 135 has a lot of traffic and not much in the way of sidewalks).
Suggested Side Trips:
Pond Street/Cemeteries and vicinity: Begin at Natick Common, facing Bakery on the Common. Cross South Main Street (Route 27) and proceed up Pond Street. To reach the cemeteries, walk up Pond. If staying on the left side of the road, cross Western Avenue; cross Waban Street; cross Thompson Court; cross Forest Street; cross Quince Street; cross Oakland Street; cross Campus Drive. Dell Park Cemetery and Fiske Pond will be on your right; St. Patrick’s Cemetery and Dug Pond will be on your left. Dell Park is the town’s main cemetery, and is the final resting place for many of Natick’s most important families, including the Walcotts, the Harwoods and the Wilsons. St. Patrick’s, which was recently renovated, is the town’s only Catholic cemetery and offers walkers several quiet and well-maintained routes. To visit the Framingham/Natick Jewish Cemetery, take a left onto Fiske Street; cross Whitcomb, Draper and Green streets and take a left onto Fairview. This cemetery is also accessible via Windsor Avenue, which is just off West Street.
Mill Street/Hartford Street: Begin at Natick Common, Bakery on the Common side. Cross South Main Street (Route 27) and proceed up Pond Street until you reach Mill Street. Continue up Mill; West Park will be on your left. Cross West Central Street (Route 135) and proceed up Mill, using the right side of the road. Cross Westfield Road and Beaver Dam Road; the Sherwood Village senior complex will be on your right. Hartford Street will be at the end of Mill Street. To visit the Speen Street neighborhood (and to reach Route 9), take a right; the Brown Elementary School will be on your right. Cross Barnsdale Road and Nottingham Road; at the lights, take a right onto Speen Street. Taking a right onto Barnsdale or Nottingham will allow a visit to an area which includes Sherwood Road and Greenwood Road. Continuing on Speen Street, you cross Nottingham and go past Fairway Estates and driving range; since the sidewalk ends around here, it is advisable to cross Speen and continue from the Armory side of the road. Continuing up Hartford offers a glimpse of history, as there are several reminders of the town’s colonial past, including the 18-mile marker stone (near 157 Hartford) and the Stone House, built in 1749. Hartford goes past the Framingham town line and ends on Route 126. Taking a left onto Boden Lane will take you not only to West Central Street but also to Boden Lane Cemetery, the smallest in town; both are named after William Boden, who served as a major in the Revolutionary War.
Along Rte. 9: If you really want an adventure, try walking up and around Route 9. Most of the area is sidewalked, and there are plenty of amenities, but traffic is a major concern. Best way across Route 9 is the bridge on Speen Street; getting across Speen to Cloverleaf or Home Depot is a bit tricky, but there is a crosswalk with walk signal right before Home Depot. From this area, you can make your way to Cochituate Road (Route 30) and travel into Wayland; walk past BJ’s and Boston Scientific and walk along Route 9 by Lake Cochituate toward Route 27 (sidewalk all the way).
Although mostly residential, this area has its share of history; the basic route alone includes the Johnson Elementary School, the William Coolidge House; the site around the area of Route 27 and West Street was once the site of the town’s poor farm. Adjacent neighborhoods also have a bit of history to go with the usual quiet surroundings.
Basic distance: approximately 1.25 miles.
Hazards: All sidewalk on right side of the road; some moderate traffic near Johnson Elementary and toward West Street, moderate traffic during the day and early evening along Route 27 itself.
Facilities: No public rest rooms outside downtown Natick, although facilities at the athletic facilities and high school generally available when open; public pay phones at high school.
Route: Begin at Natick Common, facing south (the Bakery on the Common and Town Paint will be on your right). Cross Common Street, cross East Street. Where South Main Street (Route 27) bears to the right, cross Cottage and continue down South Main. Although there are sidewalks on both sides of the street, the one on the right, closer to the Johnson School, is longer, so cross South Main and proceed. Go past the Johnson School, cross Circular; cross Bennett; continue up South Main; cross Bear Hill Drive; proceed to bottom of hill; take right on West Street; nursery will be on your left.
Suggested Side Trips
Cottage Street and Vicinity: Begin at Natick Common, facing south (the Bakery on the Common will be on your right). Proceed down South Main Street (Route 27); cross Common Street, cross East Street. Where South Main Street bears to the right, bear left onto Cottage Street (the William Coolidge House and the Coolidge Apartments will be on your left). Cross Webster Street; cross Jefferson Street; cross Coolidge Avenue; cross Madison. Continue down Cottage. Cross; since there are few sidewalks after this point, it is recommended to stay on the left side of the road. Farwell Street, The Charles River School and one of the early “center” schools will be on your right. Continue down Cottage; Countryside Road and Cobblestone Road will be on your right. Cottage ends at Everett Street, which connects to Route 16 (if you go left) and Route 27, Sherborn (if you go right).
To visit Rockland Street and vicinity, including the Williamson Cider Mill, either take a right from Cottage onto Everett, cross Everett Terrace and Hopewell Farm Road, and take a right onto Rockland (the cider mill will be on your left); or, if on the other end of Cottage, take a right onto Farwell, past Jameson Street and Joshua Way, then left onto Rockland; taking a right onto Rockland will get you to Route 27.
“Squash End” and vicinity -- Begin at Natick Common, Baptist Church side. Go down Common Street; cross Church Street and take a right onto Morse Street. To visit the Coolidge Field area, take a right onto Sherman Street; go past Lincoln and Wilson streets and take a right onto Sheridan Street; cross Avon Street; Coolidge Field will be at the end of Sheridan Street. If you go to the back of the baseball diamond, you will see the start of the hospital trail which winds its way through the area between the field and Leonard Morse Hospital. To visit the Coolidge Hill Area, stay on Morse and proceed to the end of the street, which connects with Jefferson Street. The top of the hill is accessible by trail on the Morse Street side.
To visit the Lincoln Street Extension area, take a left onto Jefferson, then a right onto Lincoln Street Extension. To visit the School Street Extension area, take a right onto Jefferson, then a right onto School Street Extension (an access trail to the top of Coolidge Hill will be on your left). At the end of this road is Zoar Street; if you take a left onto Zoar, you will find connecting roads to Woodland Street. To visit Woodland Street and vicinity, either take a left off Cottage or use the connecting roads off Zoar. Woodland connects Cottage to Union Street, and is also a connecting road to Morningside Avenue via Woodleigh Road and Clover Lane.
Johnson School and vicinity – Begin at Natick Common, Baptist Church side. Cross South Main Street (Route 27); proceed down South Main, staying on the right side of the road. Cross Whalen Lane; bear right at the South Main/Cottage Street bend and continue down South Main. Johnson School will be on your right. To visit the neighborhood behind the school, take a right onto Curve Street; this street connects with Oakland Street and is a good back road to the high school. It also connects with several streets, including High Street and Forest Street, that lead into smaller streets and quiet neighborhoods; most of these are sidewalked. A good route for an early evening stroll is South Main Street to a right onto Floral Avenue to Waban Street, then right onto Pond Street.
At first glance, this part of Natick looks very recent, from the Route 9/27 Mall and other businesses along Route 9 to any number of housing developments from post-World War II to now. But as any walker can tell you, there’s more to this part of town than just a first glance.
Hazards: Mostly sidewalk throughout area; some trails around Pickerel Pond; Winter Street/Oak Street area has few sidewalks and narrow streets.
Facilities: Few public facilities outside Route 9/27 Mall area; pay phones along Route 9 and Route 27, but none within neighborhoods.
Basic Route to Wayland town line: Begin at corner of Bacon Street and North Main Street (Route 27); the White Hen Pantry will be on your left, the Felch House on your right. Stay on the White Hen Pantry side of the road. Cross Route 9 access roads and over the Veterans Bridge. Cross Route 9 access road to island across from Fannon’s Liquors, then cross toward Fannon’s to get to left side of Route 27; the Route 9/27 Mall will be on your right side. Continue up Route 27; Camp Mary Bunker will be on your left, the North Cemetery (established in 1741) will be on your right. To visit the cemetery, cross the street at the traffic light for the 9/27 Mall (there is a walk signal); the cemetery includes the remains of several Revolutionary War veterans as well as several prominent Natick families. To reach the Wayland town line, continue up Route 27, preferably on the left side (more sidewalk); cross West Evergreen (to reach Bennett-Hemenway School, cross Route 27 and go down East Evergreen); cross Gordon Road; cross Cypress Road; go under Mass. Turnpike; Dairy Queen and Pine Street will be on your right, as well as the Felch-Hammond House, built in 1724 and one of the oldest houses in Natick. Cross Hammond Street; cross Oak Knoll Road; just beyond that is the Wayland town line. About 50 yards beyond the line, on the left, is a section of the Snake Brook Trail (new in 2000). This trail through Cochituate State Park connects with the proposed Cochituate Rail Trail. The distance is about one mile.
Suggested Side Trips: To visit the neighborhood around Lake Shore Road, cross Route 27 near Fannon’s Liquors and proceed up Lake Shore Road. The walk is much less noisy than Route 9, and there are some nice views of Lake Cochituate. There are more views available around the West Evergreen area; to visit there, proceed up Route 27 to the set of lights at East Evergreen and take a left. Taking West Evergreen to the end will get you to Lake Cochituate; some of the other streets in this area include Crest Road and Cypress Road.
To visit the area around Wethersfield, one of the first postwar housing developments, either proceed up Route 27 and take a right onto East Evergreen or proceed up Route 9 east and take a left onto Wethersfield Road. You may notice Wethersfield to be a bit wider than the average road; that’s because Wethersfield Road served as an airplane runway in the 1930s. Wethersfield covers a lot of ground and can be a good walk all in itself; streets in this area include Appleton Road, Spring Valley Road, Bradford Road, Liberty Street and Dwight Avenue.
Basic Route to Wellesley town line: Begin at corner of Bacon Street and North Main Street (Route 27); facing north, the White Hen Pantry will be on your left, the Felch House on your right. Stay on the west side of the road. Cross the Route 9 access roads and over the Veterans Bridge. Cross Route 9 access road to island across from Fannon’s Liquors, then cross toward Fannon’s to get to west side of Route 27; the Route 9/27 Mall will be on your right side. To reach the Wellesley town line, cross at the signal for the Route 9/27 Mall; walk counter-clockwise around the outside of the parking lot, with the stores, Cognex and Fairway Bowling on your left, until you reach the sidewalk on the north side of Route 9. Continue east up Route 9, with the Town Forest and McDonald’s on your right; cross Executive Drive; cross Wethersfield Road; cross Wheeler Lane; cross Centre Street; cross Oak Street (heavy traffic, but there are walk signals); cross Whittier Road; cross Byron Road; town line is just beyond Byron. The distance is about one mile. Because of traffic, especially along access roads and parking lots, extra care must be used.
Suggested Side Trips: The Wethersfield neighborhood is accessible via Wethersfield Road, Wheeler Lane and Centre Street. To visit the Town Forest, cross Route 9 at the Oak Street lights, cross Oak Street toward Scrub a Dub, and proceed west up the south sidewalk of Route 9. Cross Vermont Street, Connecticut Avenue and Massachusetts Avenue; the McDonald’s will be on your left; just beyond McDonald’s, at the bottom of the hill to your left, you’ll see a small trail leading to a stone marker. This is the beginning of the Town Forest trail; the forest is about 100 acres with several well-used, but not well-marked, trails. There are access points leading to Oak Street near Jennings Pond and Bacon Street at Marion Street.
To visit the East Natick United Methodist Church and vicinity, take a left onto Wellesley Road.
Basic Route to Weston town line: Begin at corner of Bacon Street and North Main Street (Route 27); the White Hen Pantry will be on your left, the Felch House on your right. Stay on the White Hen Pantry side of the road. Cross Route 9 access roads and over the Veterans Bridge. Cross Route 9 access road to island across from Fannon’s Liquors, then cross toward Fannon’s to get to left side of Route 27; the Route 9/27 Mall will be on your right side. To reach the Wellesley town line, cross at the signal for the Route 9/27 Mall; walk along the parking lot, with the stores on your left, until you reach the sidewalk at Route 9. Continue up Route 9 east; cross Executive Drive; cross Wethersfield Road; cross Wheeler Lane; cross Centre Street. Take a left onto Oak Street; the East Natick School will be on your left. Cross Melvin Road; cross Abbott Road; cross Otis Street; cross Pickerel Road; cross Erie Drive; cross Pine Street; go over the Mass. Pike bridge. Just beyond that is Winter Street; cross Oak and proceed up Winter. Cross Frost Street (the Jennison House, built in 1737, is on this road, and well worth the short detour); cross Rathbun Road; cross Alden Street; cross Milford Avenue. The town line is marked with the Station Tree, a 500-year-old oak tree that was used in colonial times to mark boundaries. The distance is about 2.5 miles.
Suggested Side Trips: To access Pickerel Pond, take a left onto Abbott Road and take a right onto Beverly Road. Beverly “runs into” Hammond Road; about a quarter-mile from this point, on the right, is a trail that leads to Pickerel Pond. Its smaller cousin, Mud Pond, is nearby. If you hear bells, don’t be alarmed; that’s St. Mark’s Coptic Orthodox Church on Oak Street.
To access the Pine Street neighborhood, proceed up Oak Street and take a left onto Pine Street at the Post Office. Mostly residential these days, this neighborhood was farmland at one time, and was once the home of Langdon Moore, a well-known 19th century bank robber.
This is where it all began for Natick, when John Eliot brought some Indians from Nonantum (present-day Newton) to establish a Praying Indian village on the banks of the Charles in 1651. Much of South Natick lies within the John Eliot Historic District, and features many wonderful houses from the 18th and 19th centuries. Even away from the center, there’s lots to see, from the Marino Farm on Pleasant Street, to the Sawin House on South Street, to the Broadmoor Sanctuary along South and Eliot streets. Just over the line in Wellesley is Elm Bank, a former estate which is now the home of the Massachusetts Horticultural Society.
Hazards: Union Street is sidewalked, as is South Natick Center; once away from the center, sidewalks disappear, although breakdown lanes are wide enough for safety.
Facilities: Few public facilities in South Natick Center, including Bacon Free Library and fire station; there are a couple of pay phones in the center and nearby businesses, but none away from the center.
Basic Route: Start at Natick Common, side facing the Natick Town Hall. Cross Common Street and proceed up Route 135 east, staying on the right side of the road. Montrose School will be on your right. Cross Morse Street; cross Lincoln Street; cross Wilson Street; cross Grant Street. At the lights, cross Union, then take a right; Sovereign Bank will be on your left (there’s more sidewalk on the left side of Union than on the right). Proceed past the condominiums and office buildings; MetroWest Medical Center will be on your right. Cross Woronoco; Winona Farm, established in 1903, will be on your right. Just across the farm is the Luther Broad House, built in 1714. The access road to the Town Water Tank is to the right of the house. Christ Lutheran Church will be on your right. Cross Algonquian; the Christian Science Church and Rockland Street will be on your right. As you go down the hill, you will begin to see South Natick Center; when you reach Brook Hollow Road, look to your left, and you should see the spire of Sacred Heart Church. Cross Morse Lane and Broads Avenue; the South Natick Burial Ground, established in 1731, and the Eliot Church, first established in 1651, will be in front of you. As you near South Natick Center, you will see several houses dating from the 18th and 19th centuries on both sides of the road, including the Little Brown School House (1839) and the Forsythe House (1796). Many of these houses are part of the John Eliot Historic District; these houses are listed on Appendix 2. Distance is about 1.25 miles.
Suggested Side Trips: The center of South Natick is full of history and beautiful architecture. Start with the Eliot Church, which started as a meetinghouse in 1651. The headstone of Daniel Takawambait, Eliot’s successor (and America's first native minister), is on the grounds of the church. Across the street is the South Natick Burying Ground, the town’s oldest. This contains the remains of Oliver Peabody and Stephen Badger, Takawambait’s successors, several Revolutionary War veterans and members of Rev. Eliot’s family. The red brick building houses the Bacon Free Library and the Natick Historical Society; the grounds include a memorial to John Eliot and an Indian burial marker. And of course, there is the Charles River, which is a beautiful sight no matter the time of year.
Using South Natick as a base, you can go to other parts of South Natick, or visit Wellesley, Dover or Sherborn.
To visit the area west of the center, proceed up Route 16 (Eliot Street) west, using the right side of the road; the Bacon Free Library, built in 1881, and the Charles River, will be on your left. Cross Carver Hill and Badger Hill Road; just beyond Badger Hill is the Stephen Badger House, built in 1753 for the Rev. Stephen Badger, last missionary to the Natick Indians. Within the stone fence is a marker for the two “Friendship Trees” planted in his honor by the Indians. Cross Farm Hill Road; just beyond is Memorial School and the Natick Community Organic Farm; behind the school and farm is the MWRA's Sudbury Aqueduct, which is a nice walk in itself and leads to Cottage Street. Cross Rockridge Road and Justin Road. The sidewalk ends around this point, so stay in the breakdown lane. As you approach the bend, you will see another street. This is South Street; much of it bisects Massachusetts Audubon Society's Broadmoor Wildlife Sanctuary and is also the locale for the Sawin House, portions of which date from the 1680s. South Street ends in Sherborn, so if you want a nice, long walk with all the scenery you can handle, this is the walk for you. To continue into South Natick, proceed along Route 16; cross Deepwoods Circle; cross Eliot Hill Road. The road breaks just beyond this point; Eliot continues on the left, while Everett continues on the right. To visit the Broadmoor Wildlife Sanctuary, continue on Route 16, left side of the road, then take a left at the Broadmoor sign. Because of the heavy traffic and small breakdown lanes, walking along Route 16 beyond the sanctuary is not encouraged. To access Cottage Street or Rockland Street, proceed up Everett Street; cross Whitridge Road. Cottage will be on your right. For Rockland, continue along Everett; cross Everett Terrace; cross Hopewell Road; Rockland Street will be on your right, with the Williamson Cider Mill facing you on the left.
To visit the area south of the center, cross Eliot Street (Route 16) and proceed along Pleasant Street; the Bacon Free Library will be on your right; the Harriet Beecher Stowe House will be on your left. Cross the Eliot Bridge over the Charles. To visit Glenwood Cemetery and vicinity, take a right onto Glen Street; Glenwood Street will be on your right, with the cemetery at the other end. This is the final resting place for Horatio Alger and his family, as well as many prominent citizens of South Natick. Glen Street is a great walk in itself; it goes well into Dover, and is straight and relatively flat. To visit Dover Road and vicinity, cross Merrill Road (a small canal built in the 1830s is nearby); cross Phillips Street; and take a left onto Dover Road. If you want to be in three towns in quick order, proceed up Dover Road; shortly after Warren Road, you reach the Dover town line; just beyond that, past Main Street, Dover, is the Charles River, which is Dover’s town line with Needham. Main Street, Dover, is a favorite with cyclists and runners wishing a relatively quiet route to Dover Center, Sherborn and beyond. The other end of Pleasant Street is accessible from Main Street; taking this road will get you back to South Natick, and before that, to Marino Farm.
To visit the area east of the center, take Route 16 east, with the cemetery on the left side and the Eliot Church on the right. Go past the fire station; the Peletiah Morse Tavern, built in 1749, will be on your left, while Eliot Hall and the Sacred Heart Church will be on your right. Just across from the church is the David Morse House, built in 1730; cross Leach Lane; the Wellesley town line is nearby. Across the street is the entrance to Elm Bank, the home of the Massachusetts Horticultural Society. This has several well-marked trails, and is a favorite among dog owners. Leach Lane itself is a quiet street, as well as River and Water streets. Go down Water Street to the end, then follow the trail to what looks like the foundation of a bridge. At one time, this was a bridge for a trolley which served Natick, Dover and vicinity. A canoe livery operated along these banks, and a dance hall was nearby. Much of this was destroyed by the Hurricane of 1938 and never rebuilt.
In 1988, the Natick Historic District Commission published a walking tour guide of the Henry Wilson Historic District; it described each historic house within the district by architectural style as well as original owner and current house number. What follows is an abbreviated version of this guide. Unless otherwise noted, the street numbers refer to West Central Street, the heart of the historic district.
Indian Burying Ground, Pond Street adjacent to parking lot. Part of 100 acres set aside in 1714 by the proprietors for the support of the minister, and used by both white and native residents. In 1849, the remains of the whites were moved to Dell Park Cemetery farther west on Pond Street. Lt. John Wampsquon was an original Proprietor and may be buried here.
West Central Street (except as noted):
19 & 25, Sheraton Hayes House and Carriage House: Richard Hayes built the structures prior to 1849, when he sold them to his brother, Sheraton. Richard’s shoe factory stood on Summer Street until 1988. The gambrel roofed building (#25) with its end to the street was the carriage house for #19.
24, Herring-Daniels House: This turreted Shingle Style residence is clearly later than its given date of 1847. Charles Herring lived here in 1853; here he frequently entertained his brother, George, a New Hampshire senator and ardent abolitionist. From 1972 to 1987, it functioned as a radio station.
26, Lucius Monroe House: This Greek Revival structure was built by S. B. Horton and sold in 1840 to Monroe, whose wife was a sister of Mrs. Henry Wilson.
27, Senator Walter N. Mason House: Built around 1861 by William Bigelow and bought by Morse, a state Senator, in 1866.
28, Samuel T. Gilmore House: Gilmore was living here in 1874 when water lines were installed along the street. He had a millinery and fancy goods shop in Clark’s Block on Main Street.
29, Nathan Rice House. Nathan Rice was an educator who founded an evening school for foreign residents in 1858. This house is registered with the Massachusetts Historical Commission and has many original details.
30, Colbath-Walker House. George Colbath was a brother of Henry Wilson, who sold him this land in 1849. Colbath learned shoemaking but eventually became a government employee.
32, A. Ingraham Estate. Shown on a map of 1874.
33, Henry Wilson House. Wilson built this house in the early 1850s. It was left to the Visiting Nurse Association in 1952 by Mrs. Bancroft.
34, Calvin Leland House. In 1842, Henry Wilson engaged Thomas Phillips to erect a house similar to the Lucius Monroe House, a colonnaded, gable front Greek Revival building.
35, Dr. Charles H. Cook House. Dr. Cook bought the property from William Coolidge, an heir of Henry Wilson, in 1881, and built this Stick-Style residence soon after.
36, Jonathan Colburn House. Colburn bought the land with his brother, David, in 1836 and built soon after. He ran the town’s first livery stable and still owned this Greek Revival house in 1875.
37, Ferrin House. Built by Steven Hayes before 1851, it was owned in 1865 by Francis L. Ferrin, one of the first makers of pegged shoes.
38, James H. Goodwin House. In 1864, Goodwin, a cordwainer, built this residence on land bought from an heir of Oliver Bacon, author of “A History of Natick” (1856).
39 and 41, Crowell Properties. Naomi Crowell bought both houses, which share a right-of-way, in 1917 and divided them in 1954. The date of #39, which served as the Christian Science Reading Room in the 1960s and 1970s, is not known. William C. Burleigh, cordwainer and cutter, built #41 in 1849 and lived there until his death in 1899.
40. John U. Morse House. Morse, brother of Leonard Morse and a leather cutter by trade, sold this Mansard-roofed house in 1868 to Charles W. Childs. It has since been divided into apartments.
42. George Ramsdell House. In 1845, Lucius Monroe built this Greek Revival dwelling. Ramsdell, a wood dealer, lived here in the 1880s. From 1892 to 1915, MacMahan’s livery service operated from a barn and sheds in the rear.
43. Whitney-Daniels House. Freeman Whitney, a shoe manufacturer, had a tannery at the end of Temple Place on Pegan Brook. He built this Greek Revival residence before the Civil War.
44. Walker-Brown House. Built in 1844 by Henry Wilson, the house originally included a shoemaker’s shop. The road on the west was “laid out and opened by said Wilson.”
45. David M. Whitney House. This Greek Revival residence was built about 1839 by Freeman Whitney. By 1853, his brother David, a cordwainer, appears on town maps as the owner.
46. Stern House. This Dutch Colonial was built in the 1920s.
49. Dustin Jewell House. J.O. Wilson built this Greek Revival structure after 1847. In 1868, Dustin Jewell, another New Hampshire boy lured to town by the shoe industry, lived here and operated a factory on the corner of Washington Avenue and Summer Street, where he made heels for the shoe industry.
50. William Perry House. Perry, a mechanic in the shoe industry, bought this house about 1860.
51. Edwin C. Morse House. About 1849, Morse, a shoe manufacturer, built this house, where he lived until 1862. In 1867, it was bought by the Rev. John Walsh, founder of St. Patrick’s and Sacred Heart Roman Catholic parishes. A Second Empire carriage house was added to the rear, probably after the Civil War.
53. Royal Farwell House. In 1831, George C. Whitney built this, the oldest house in the historic district. After a succession of owners, it was sold to Farwell, Morse’s partner, who served in the Civil War under General Fiske and was assigned to care for poor black and white refugees stranded by Sherman’s march. Farwell’s granddaughter Rachel posed for Wallace Nutting’s “Colonials” series in which the entrance hall and stairway of the house are featured.
54 and 56. Walker E. Johnson Houses. After the tragic loss of a child in Pegan Brook in 1945, the town laid a conduit for the stream, and the land became suitable for building. These two “Cape Cod” houses were built by Johnson in 1946.
55. Henry Stoddard House. Built by George W. Johnson for Henry Stoddard in 1877, this Stick Style house underwent many owners before being converted to condominiums in the 1980s.
57. Rice-Stevens House. Built in the 1870s by Nathan Rice, this must added-to cottage once had a bridge spanning Pegan Brook at the west boundary of its property.
58. Randall Farm. J. Felch lived here in 1853, but by 1868, John Randall operated a farm here and made shoes in his spare time.
59. Charles A. Davis House. Circa 1862, it was the residence of Sen. George Sawin, a state Senator and member in 1852 of Natick’s first high school graduating class. After 1867, the house was bought by Charles Davis, who had joined the 1849 California gold rush and returned without a fortune to become a cutter of upper leathers for shoes.
60. Bliss Boardman House. Boardman, a securities salesman, built this square dwelling with its fashionable “Chinese” entry and Craftsman details in 1869 on part of the old Randall Farm.
61. Otis Perry Household. Circa 1845, built by Perry.
62. Frederick M. Boardman House. Boardman was a liner cutter for the shoe industry, and also sold real estate and insurance in this late Greek Revival house of 1868.
63. Gray Gables. Built by Otis Perry before 1846, it was owned by Curtis Parker in the 1860s. Parker manufactured shoes with his cousin, John Sanger, in their factory which still stands to the rear.
64. Anson Pitcher House. This house existed before 1877 when water was installed. It has fine original details such as the circular motif over the round-topped window in the gable and the large porch.
65. Peristere House. This building was built in 1948 on the site of an earlier house which burned in 1940.
(1 High St.) Charles W. Perry House. Designed by Boston architect Ernest M. Boyden, who also designed the Odd Fellows building at Pond Street, this 1889 Queen Anne residence was owned by Perry, a pharmacist who owned what is now Jones Drug on Main Street.
67. Beal-Forbes House. Built about 1869, this cottage has acquired later additions.
69. Benjamin Towne House. Towne built this structure about 1845.
71. Major D.H.L. Gleason House. Major Gleason was promoted on the field in the Civil War. Subsequently wounded and discharged, he worked in Washington in an office which he shared with Louis J. Weichman, a witness in the trial of Lincoln’s assassins. His admiration for Henry Wilson brought him to Natick, where he built this Stick Style house about 1870 in Edward Walcott’s orchard.
72. Mary E. Nichols House. Mary Nichols was a daughter of Edward Walcott, a shoe manufacturer whose estate was across the street. Walcott moved here in 1868 after his bankruptcy. This house is a cross-gabled Greek Revival type with a Mansard roof on the east wing.
Near Taylor Avenue, Site of "Walcott’s Folly": Built in 1853 and demolished in 1929, this early Mansarded 21-room mansion stood amid landscaped grounds on what are now nine parcels of land. Walcott was a strong abolitionist and was known to aid runaway slaves. A dry brick and stone tunnel ran from the house north to the railroad tracks. Numbers 73, 75 and 77 were built on the south side of the property in 1930, 1936 and 1948, respectively. Forest Street traces the Folly’s drive; Taylor Avenue was created when the property was divided.
74. Edward Clark House. This restored Second Empire house was built around 1870 for Clark, a grocer and co-owner with his father Nathaniel of Clark’s Block on Main Street. Now law offices, the building is listed as a National Historic Landmark.
76. Mary Clark Whitney House. This house was built for Whitney, wife of a shoe factory foreman. Mrs. Whitney lived here until December 1915, when she died two weeks short of her 100th birthday.
78. Walter B. Plummer House. This Second Empire residence was built in 1873 for Plummer, a shoe manufacturer.
79. Isaac Merrill Fellows House. The earliest documentation of this Greek Revival building is 1854. Fellows was one of the earliest shirt-makers in town.
80. S.A. Sweetland House. This small Mansard-roofed structure was built around 1871 by Sweetland, a builder who constructed the Walcott Building at Main and Summer streets in 1888. In 1944, Edward A. Olson owned the property and developed a portable kidney dialysis machine in the carriage house.
81. John Cleland House. Built before 1860 by Daniel Wight Childs, this Mansard was sold in 1871 to John Cleland, a merchant, who lived here until 1899.
82. William Cleland House. This house was bought in 1880 by William Cleland, son of John.
83. O.H. Burleigh House. Burleigh, in the real estate and insurance business, built this Second Empire dwelling about 1878.
84. Charles W. Johnson House. This large Queen Anne house was built in 1890 by Johnson, a shoe and boot manufacturer. The house behind it (#11 Tucker St.) was its carriage house.
85. & 87. W.C. Childs House and Carriage House. Another of Natick’s sons who unsuccessfully sought his fortune in the California gold fields, Childs returned to Natick and entered the shoe business. Probably built in the late 1860s, this front-gabled Italianate residence has simple detailing and side entrances. The carriage house (#85) has been a separate property since 1947.
86. Baxter House. This is a modern “Cape Cod” house built in the 1940s.
90. Powers-Litchfield House. Built by Harry True, an officer in several utility companies, this Queen Anne residence was constructed in 1891, probably for S.A. Sweetland, since Mrs. True was his daughter.
91. Morse-Brown House. A picture of Abraham Lincoln hung for years in the front room of this 1871 Italianate dwelling, reminding William H. Brown of his service as sentry at the White House during Lincoln’s tenure. This house was built by John U. Morse.
In 1989, the Natick Historical Commission published a walking tour of the John Eliot Historic District in South Natick. It provided a synopsis of many of the houses found within that part of town. What follows is an abridged version of the guide.
190 Little Brown Schoolhouse. Originally a one-room schoolhouse, the building was remodeled by John and Horace Mann in 1839-40. It was then occupied by William Perry, who made shoes in a workshop on the property.
193 Tuck House. The builder of the house is unknown, but Abiather Tuck lived here after 1846 with his brother who built “David Stein’s Bowling Alley” for machinery to make oilcloth carpets. John Howard added a front piazza ca. 1899.
194 John Jennings House. This dwelling was built by Warren Bird’s father in 1842. Joseph Stanley manufactured brogans here from 1846-56. John Jennings purchased the building in 1892.
195 Berry House. G. Bailey is listed as the owner in 1892, but whether he built this small cottage is unknown. Georgiana M. Berry, director of music in the Dover-Sherborn Schools, purchased the house in 1969 and lived here with her father.
197 Callahan House. Built by Mary Barnicle Meehan in 1912, this two-family Craftsman style residence was later purchased by Robert Callahan, an in-law.
198 Sheehan-Tarpy House. Morton V.B. Bartlett bought the land in 1845 and sold it with buildings in 1870, so he assumed to be the builder. Daniel Sheehan bought the house in 1884.
199 Hancock-Bishop House. Built between 1845-9 by Charles Morse, a shoemaker, this Greek Revival residence had a cobbler’s shop attached to the rear. Henry Hancock, who purchased the house in 1869, built the barn for blacksmithing and Victorianized the house. Hancock’s widow sold the house in 1914 to Leon E. Bishop, whose family occupied the house until 1953.
200 Robbins-Butler House. Cyrus Robbins, miller at South Natick Dam for 50 years, built this Federal house c.1847. In 1880, William Healy purchased the property and erected the picket fence, which still stands.
201 Forsythe House. There is no record of the name Forsythe in connection with this house. Its date is estimated at 1795, but no records substantiate this. In 1825, Dr. Stephen H. Spaulding, physician and money-lender, bought land here. In 1841, he sold this property with buildings to Dr. and Mrs. Wolcott Chandler. Their heir, Fanny F. Chandler, sold in 1854 to Goin Bailey, who moved the house here from an adjacent lot. Frances Lucille Harris owned and lived here for years working to promote historic preservation, and to establish the John Eliot Historic District.
Old Natick Burying Ground: In 1731, the “Praying Indians” gave to their missionary, Rev. Oliver Peabody, cemetery land for the white settlers. Both Rev. and Mrs. Peabody are buried here, as well as the Rev. Stephen Badger, the last missionary, and his family; and the early Bacon, Morse, Sawin, Atkins, Stowe and Bigelow families.
2 Harriet Beecher Stowe House. This Federal residence was built in 1816 by Dr. Alexander Thayer on land acquired from Col. Bigelow, his future father-in-law. The house is named for its most famous visitor, Harriet Beecher Stowe, author of “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.” Calvin Stowe, grandson of William Bigelow, lived with that family after the death of his father. The couple visited this house often after their marriage in 1836. Mrs. Stowe based her novel “Oldtown Folks” on reminiscences of her in-laws.
4 Wheeler House. Moses Eames built this Greek Revival house with is low columned porch in the 1830s and sold to Lucy Morse in 1845. Aaron Wheeler purchased it in 1855, and it remained in the family until about 1918. During the 1950s, it housed a restaurant.
6. Eames House. Moses Eames built this Greek Revival in 1839. To distinguish his house from Goin Bailey’s of the same year, he added a cupola and used Doric columns rather than Ionic.
8 Dowd House. This office complex replaced the former Dowd House, a barn from the adjacent Eames property, moved and converted to a residence by Charles Dowd in the early 1900s.
Old Town Park and South Natick Dam. This is the site of the original dam, grist and saw mills built by Rev. Peabody and Hezekiah Broad ca. 1733. In 1778, Peletiah Morse sold them to William Bigelow. The last mill was razed in 1903. The dam was rebuilt in 1935. The canal by the basketball court was leased by Mr. Bigelow with a right-of-way to a mill where the Ealing Corp. now stands.
Indian Bridge. This stone bridge stands at the site of the original foot bridge over the Charles River. Under the supervision of the Rev. Eliot, the Native Americans built a strong arch nine feet high at its center. It reached 80 feet at its center and lasted into the 1700s. This bridge was built in 1857 at a cost of $3,442.42.
Hunnewell Field. East side of Pleasant Street. After the South Natick fire of 1872, the town leased a parcel here for a firehouse, later moved to Union Street. In 1902, the owners of the Bigelow Mills, Natick Gas Light and Electric, sold this land to A. Hunnewell, who deeded 11.21 acres to the town for a playground.
16 Horatio Alger House. Oliver Bacon built this house about 1824. In 1869, Bacon sold to H.H. Hunnewell, who permitted Rev. Horatio Alger, father of the author, to live here until his death. In 1909, Hunnewell deeded the property to the First Unitarian Church of South Natick as a parsonage.
17 Bigelow-Foster House. In 1784, William Bigelow bought land from a Native, John Ephraim, and built a gambrel-roof cottage. In 1825, Isaac Bigelow removed the old house except for the kitchen, which he incorporated into this house.
18 Perry House. John J. Perry, son-in-law of Oliver Bacon, built this house in 1856. Perry moved the barn (Shaw Gym) back to house horses for his coal business. In 1907, Mrs. Robert G. Shaw bought the property and gave the barn to the town. She turned the house into a children’s home for the Unitarian Society of Boston.
20 Captain James McGrath House. In 1835, Alpheus Bigelow sold a small house to Converse Francis, father of Wayland’s Lydia Maria Child, a feminist, abolitionist and author of the poem “Over the River and Through the Woods.” In 1840, “Daddy” Francis sold the land with two houses upon it to Captain James McGrath, who manufactured brogans here and was active in town affairs. Only foundation remnants of the smaller house remain.
3-5 Morse-Dana-Leach House. When this simple Georgian house was built, the east boundary of Natick extended to the western shore of Lake Waban, now in Wellesley. In 1759, David Morse built this as a “salt box” on land he had been buying from the Native owners since 1730. Ephraim Dana bought the property in 1779 and established a blacksmith shop at the corner of Leach Lane. His daughters extended the building to the east to house a shop.
9 White’s Garage. Originally part of the Dowd (11 Eliot) property, the land was bought in 1926 by Walter Hughes, who built a garage and sold automobiles.
10 Boinay House. In the mid 19th century, shoe manufacturer Samuel Walcott bought most of the land in this area, called the Cape because it is bounded on three sides by the Charles River. He laid out streets and house lots to sell to the French and German factory workers he recruited at the New York docks. John Schaller bought this one in 1856 and built this eclectic residence soon afterward. In 1873, he sold it to Vandelin Boinay, shoemaker.
19 Sacred Heart Rectory. This Queen Anne residence with its pyramidal hip roof was built in the 1880s by Harper Leavitt on land once owned by David Morse (21 Eliot). In 1895, it was purchased for use as a rectory.
21 David Morse House. In 1732, David Morse, who kept the town records for the Native Properties, built a one- or two-story “saltbox” residence for his family. The Georgian structure seen today is thought to incorporate the original. The house has 10 fireplaces and a funeral door. The large structure to the rear is recent.
24 Weighand House. This Federal residence was built between 1824 and 1830. Owned at one time by Samuel Walcott, it was bought in 1863 by Phillip Weighant, cordwainer, from “an insolvent debtor,” Pardon L. Porter. Its hip roof received a center gable in the late 19th century.
28 Sacred Heart Church. This is the first Roman Catholic church in Natick, begun in 1873 by the Rev. John Walsh. On Easter Sunday 1874, members met in the basement, using plank and barrel benches. This Gothic Revival structure was completed in 1889.
30 Edward Dowd House. Edward Dowd built this front-gabled house in 1878. The round windows in the gables are Italiante details in a building with later sidings and additions.
32-34 James Dowd House. James Dowd built this cruciform residence with Gothic detail about 1890. It was moved in 1970.
33-35 Peletiah Morse’s Tavern. Peletiah, son of David Morse, built this in 1748 to serve as a residence, tavern and stage stop on the Old Hartford road. He also had grain, fulling and saw mills at the dam. Tradition holds that one acre of this property was a gift from the Praying Indians to John Eliot. Aside from the loss of the center chimney, the house is relatively unchanged.
(5 Auburn St.) Eliot School. Designed by Boston architect William Petty to resemble the Governor’s Mansion at Williamsburg, this brick schoolhouse was built in 1937. Perry participated from 1928-35 in the reconstruction of Williamsburg. The three houses on Auburn Street are all the same Italianate design with interesting variations.
39 Atkins Fair House. This 1839 Greek Revival dwelling was built by John Atkins for his new bride. It was bought in 1883 by William Fair.
40 John Eliot Memorial Hall. Built as the John Eliot Congregational Church in 1862, this Gothic Revival structure is now used by the Eliot Church.
42 Dr. Spaulding House. This 1829 hip-roofed house has fine Greek Revival features but retains the side-gabled orientation of Federal houses.
43 William Oakes House. This Queen Anne residence was built in 1878 for William Oakes. It is believed to occupy the site of an apple orchard planted for the Rev. Peabody by the Praying Indians.
South Natick Fire House. The town purchased this land from William Fair in 1887. The present building replaces an earlier one moved from the playground on Pleasant Street.
Eliot Church, site of Eliot Oak and Rev. Daniel Takawambait Marker (east lawn of Eliot Church). The present church, built in the Federal style with louvered wood fanning over the entrance and 20-over-20 pane windows, is the fifth to be built on this site. Dedicated on Nov. 29, 1828, it was the first building in Natick to have a bell. The Town Clock was installed in 1872; the vestry was added in 1880. The original meeting house on this site, where Rev. John Eliot preached, was built by the Praying Indians in 1651 as the first church in Natick. It also served as fort, schoolhouse, storehouse and meeting hall.
It is said that the Rev. Eliot preached to the Praying Indians under a large oak here. When the tree was lost to gas leaks and cut down in the 1930s, a stone was set to mark the site.
Rev. Daniel Takawambait is believed to be the only Native American ordained into the ministry of the Puritan Church, and the only one of the period known to have a gravestone. Originally, it marked his place of interment about the middle of Pleasant Street at Eliot. Street widening caused its removal to the sidewalk-hedge north of the Stowe House. In 1986, it was moved here, within view of the church pulpit.
Indian Burying Ground. Native Americans traditionally buried the dead on a southerly slope facing running water. There were no grave markers except for Rev. Takawambait, now located beside the Eliot Church. In 1847, town notables erected an obelisk honoring Rev. John Eliot, “Apostle to the Indians.” Later, a bronze plaque describing the boundaries of the burying ground was added behind the library.
Old Natick Inn (Shaw) Park. This is the site of a tavern built in 1872 by Eliakim Morrill, immortalized as Uncle Fly Sherill in Stowe’s “Oldtown Folks.” Goin Bailey ran it from 1849 until it burned in 1872. He rebuilt and his son, Almond, operated it until 1907, when Mrs. R.G. Shaw bought and renovated it as The Old Natick Inn. She razed it in 1930 and engaged Charles Gorely to landscape the present park which she gave to the town in 1932.
58 Bacon Free Library. This fireproof brick building, which houses the Historical Museum as well as the library, was funded from the residue of the estate of Oliver N. Bacon in memory of Mrs. Bacon, the first librarian. The first library was located in her home (87 Eliot) and then in a small brick building built in 1870 near the John Eliot Monument. This cruciform building, designed by Col. Robert G. Shaw, opened in 1880. The cross and arrow iron fence represents peace and commemorates the early Christian Native Americans of South Natick.
68 First Schaller House. This and the adjoining property at 70 Eliot were once owned by John Schaller.
69 Sam Lawton House. Built about 1798 by Samuel Lawton, this was house moved back during the widening of Eliot Street in the 1870s. Lawton ran a blacksmith shop in the cellar. He was immortalized as Sam Lawson in “Oldtown Folks.”
70 Second Schaller House. This property and the adjoining one at 68 Eliot were singly owned until 1885, when Walter Hoysington bought both buildings and sold this one.
71, Sweeney House: This house stands on part of the original Sam Lawton property. In 1871, W.S. Waite owned the land with buildings, but it is uncertain if this two-story house of late Victorian style stood at that time. It was purchased by the Sweeney family in 1911.
72, Bailey’s Barn: Built around 1850, this was used as a barn by Goin Bailey, then operator of the Morrill Tavern. About 1875, Eldridge Phipps had a blacksmith shop here, a business continued by William Burke and his son, John, until 1944.
73, Site of the Carver House: This 1880s house stands near the site of one built in 1738 by Jonathan Carver for whom Carver Hill is named. The 1738 building was the third wood frame house built by an English settler in the Natick wilderness. It was the home of Dr. Alexander Thayer and his family. Thayer’s son, Alexander Wheelock Thayer, was U.S. Consul at Trieste from 1865 to 1882 and author of a definitive biography of Beethoven. After a fire in 1884, the Carver house was razed by P.H. Slamin, who built this cottage to the rear of the original site.
74, Burke House: This residence was built in the late 1800s by Charles Bird and purchased with 72 Eliot by William Burke, blacksmith, in 1889.
75, Robbins House: The John Robbins house burned in 1865. Charles Morse built this shingled cottage upon the same cellar hole before 1884. Between this property and 79 Eliot St. stood Dr. Joshua Bran’s cottage. A much-respected Native American, Dr. Bran practiced herbal medicine in the 18th century among both Native and English settlers.
79, Lavin House: About 1895, Patrick Hallinan purchased a large tract, including this land, and built several houses, perhaps even this one. In 1917, this house was purchased by Anthony Lavin.
83, Callahan House: Patrick Hallinan built this dwelling about 1898 on land purchased by Rev. W.J. Lamb. Rev. Lamb owned the Badger Farm and laid out Badger Avenue which runs up Carver Hill from Eliot Street. William F. Callahan bought the house in 1920.
87, Rev. Stephen F. Badger Parsonage: Built in 1753 by Rev. Badger, the last missionary to the Natick Indians, the house looks today as it did then, thanks to Mr. and Mrs. Walter A. Peinze’s restoration in the 1950s based on an 1870 photograph. John Bacon purchased the property in the mid 1800s and his son, Oliver, died here in 1878. Oliver’s wife kept South Natick’s first library here.
88, Queen Anne Cottage: This shingled Queen Anne cottage was built by Curtis Broad in 1898 as a tenant house for his employees. Between this and the Curtis Broad house next door (#94) was Broad’s popular canoe livery.
Site of Friendship Elm (marker in stone wall beyond #87): In 1753, a deputation of Native Americans came to the Rev. Badger house bearing two elm trees to plant as a token of their regard. One of these “Friendship Elms” stood here. The granite marker was set in the wall by Arthur Hunnewell, who had owned the house from 1902-49. This elm was the first to die; the second stood near the parsonage drive and survived into the 1950s.
94, Curtis Broad-Frisch House: In 1884, Curtis Broad purchased this and the adjoining properties, all a part of the Badger-Bacon Farm. On the lot to the west he built an ice house to store river ice which he delivered by horse and wagon in the summer. In 1944, Elizabeth Frisch, an artist and professor of art at Wellesley College, bought the property from the Broad estate.
95, Hezekiah Broad House: Hezekiah Broad came to Natick in 1733 and built soon after, buying land from Oliver Peabody. He also bought Sawin’s original sawmill and dam across the road (#102). He died in 1752 and his son, Major Hezekiah Broad, inherited. An officer under Gen. George Washington in the Revolutionary War, Broad was visited by President Washington in 1789. Long after, Broad’s tree was known as “the Washington Elm.” The original saltbox was razed and this house built before 1870 by Jeremiah Brown.
96, Boit House: The original dwelling was built near the street by Deacon Thomas Phillips in 1859. Miss Ida Morse acquired title in 1885 from her father, Hamilton Morse. Mrs. Louise Boit purchased the property in 1930, but Morse lived here until her death in 1932. Mrs. Boit then razed the 1859 house and built this Colonial Revival home overlooking the river. Tradition claims that this property is the site of the Little Brown Schoolhouse which was moved to 190 Union St.
100, Hubbard House: This land, once part of the Hezekiah Broad farm, passed to William C. Fisher who built a small house, sheds and a barn before 1883. In 1929, architect Edward Hubbard bought the property. He disassembled an early colonial house from Norwich, Conn., and re-erected it here, moving the Fisher house back to form an ell.
102, Boit-Sargent House: This is the site of the 1720 Sawin Dam. In 1912, John and Louisa Boit bought this section of the Hezekiah Broad property and contracted to build a $50,000 Georgian Revival home. In 1921, it was purchased by Professor Daniel Sargent of Harvard College. He also bought land across the river and built an arched bridge on the foundations of the dam. A stone to the right of the bridge marks the location of the dam and mill. West of the bridge on a rock on the river’s south shore, Mr. Sargent placed a statue of the Virgin Mary in 1929.
Clark’s Block: Built in 1875 by Nathaniel Clark to replace the building lost during the fire of 1874. Formerly housed town offices and a hall that was used for everything from lectures to concerts to Town Meeting.
Walcott Building (also known as the Debsan Building): Built in 1888 on the site of a former shoe factory that was destroyed during the fire of 1874.
Summer Street Firehouse: Built in 1874 to house the main unit of the Natick Fire Department, it was sold to The Center for Arts in Natick in 2001, three(?) years after the fire department moved to its current location on Route 135. The building is listed in the National Registry of Historic Places.
Hogan’s Block: Built in 1896.
Natick Federal Savings Bank.
Vietnam Veterans Memorial Bridge, rebuilt and dedicated in 1994.
Walker Pedestrian Bridge: At one time, this was an all-vehicle bridge that connected Walnut Street to Route 27. It was rebuilt as a pedestrian bridge in the 1990s and dedicated to Richard Walker, a local mail carrier.
Boston-Albany Railroad Line: From 1833, the downtown railroad tracks were at street level. In the 1890s, it was decided to depress the tracks in Natick and to raise them along Lake Cochituate to the west, thereby greatly reducing the eastbound grade (which previously was the steepest grade east of the Berkshires) and removing the need for a second locomotive on most trains. This was a major undertaking, and changed the face of downtown Natick. When completed, the town did not have to worry about trains disrupting traffic, and passengers could get on and get off trains in safety. Natick also gained a handsome depot built by H.H. Richardson, the architect who built the Wellesley Town Hall and Trinity Church in Boston's Copley Square. Unfortunately, most of the depot has been demolished, although some of the turnstiles and other pieces of the former depot may still be found the lower floors of the current building.
H.P. Harwood and Sons Baseball Factory: Built in 1858 as the world’s first baseball factory, it supplied baseballs and softballs to leagues around the country until 1976, when the operations were moved to Georgia. Today, the building serves as office space and apartments.
Natick Outdoor Store: Occupies former site of the Natick Co-Op supermarket, which was in business from 1947-77.
Natick Albanian Orthodox Church of the Annunciation: Established in 1919 for the town’s large Albanian population, it maintains an active congregation to this day.
Trooper George Hanna Memorial Bridge: Dedicated to a Natick resident who died in the line of duty in 1983.
“Auto Alley,” South Avenue: This portion of South Avenue has always been commercial. In the old days, it was the site for depots and factories. At one time, it included a car dealership and antiques store. It now houses several auto-related businesses from the corner of Washington Street to the relocated Casey’s Diner. The other side of South Avenue (the side closer to the library) has been a mix of commercial and residential; the lot behind the police and fire station once held a warehouse and several residences.
Wood Block, South Avenue: Originally built to house the Natick Theatre and several commercial enterprises. This was also home to Kemp’s Bowlaway, a popular neighborhood spot for nearly 50 years. The wooden storefront at the corner of Washington Street and South Avenue is the last one of its kind in downtown Natick.
Childs Block: This commercial building once housed a skating rink. It was named after a 49er.
Morse Institute Library: The original building was erected in 1873, according to the intentions written in the will of Mary Ann Morse. The library has had several renovations over the years, the most recent being completed in 1997. The original building is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Town Hall: Built in 1998, it houses the majority of town offices. It was built on the site of the former police station, and is adjacent to the site of the former town hall, which is now a parking lot.
Police Station/Fire Station: Built in 1997 on the site of the former Colonial Theater, the stations were designed as a “continuation” of the design of the library.
First Congregational Church: Built in 1875 to replace the structure that was lost in the Fire of 1874. This church was originally dedicated in 1799 to serve residents in the northern and western portions of Natick. Its better-known members include Henry Wilson, Nathaniel Clark and Edward Walcott.
Walcott Block: Originally built in the 1850s by Edward Walcott, this was a three-story building. The top two floors were removed in the early 1980s. The first high school classes were held here.
Odd Fellows Building: Built in 1888, it currently houses a bakery and several offices.
Natick Common: Built in the mid-19th century, it includes the town’s oldest war memorial (the Civil War monument, dedicated in 1867), the Spanish-American War memorial/flagpole and the gazebo, originally built in 1967 and rebuilt in the early 1990s.
First Baptist Church: This structure was built on the site of the old church, which was demolished in 1979. The old church was one of the few buildings that survived the Fire of 1874.
Natick Post Office: Built in 1936 on the site of the original Wilson School.
[By Maureen Sullivan, as printed in her column in
Natick Bulletin and TAB (on November
2, 2001). Reprinted with her permission.
Dick Miller: Dell Park Cemetery is a favorite bicycle destination for us in downtown Natick. When I first discovered this well-landscaped cemetery overlooking a pond, it reminded me of the wonderful Mt. Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Below, Maureen confirms my feeling with fact.]
A quiet time in a cemetery is like no other. There is a peace, a solitude among the stones; making a noise, even a walk through the fallen leaves, seems to disturb and distract.
You don't walk to ask questions; you want to stop and read the inscriptions, these small clues to a family's past, a town's history, say a silent prayer and just look at all those who have gone before you.
Natick has several cemeteries, with Dell Park on Pond Street the largest. It was two separate cemeteries at one time - the old Dell Park, which was established in 1849; and the new Dell Park, the former Lakeside Cemetery which was purchased in 1890 to help Dell Park expand.
Both have their share of town celebrities and other town characters. Old Dell Park is the final resting place for two U.S. senators (Henry Wilson and Charles Tirrell), several soldiers from the Revolutionary War and those of well-known families from the Walcotts to the Clarks. In New Dell Park, which is nondenominational, by the way, there are Fiskes, Talvys and many other, more contemporary names, most in English, even a few in Chinese.
Both cemeteries face Pond Street at one end and Fiske Pond at the other; in all seasons, an incredible view, but moreso in the autumn, when the brief days of brilliant colors contrast with the slates and greys of the stones.
The cemeteries are under the care of the nonprofit Dell Park Cemetery Association, a group comprising those who own lots within the cemeteries. Two of those members, Ellen Harwood and Bill Boyle, showed me around Old Dell Park last week, and told me about both places.
More than 150 years ago, downtown Natick was expanding, and there was little room left in the original cemetery by the First Congregational Church (the present site of Middlesex Savings Bank). The town decided to purchase 12 acres from Edward Walcott to establish a cemetery which, according to Harwood, was modeled after the park-like atmosphere of Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge. So in 1849, accompanied by a band and led by Henry Wilson, a procession of residents and clergy went to consecrate the grounds. According to Boyle, the name Dell Park had nothing to do with anyone named Dell - it's a geography term describing deep holes left by the last Ice Age. If you don't believe me, walk over to the far side of the cemetery, by the lake, and take a good look.
Those who "resided" in the original cemetery were moved to Dell Park; several of them are close by the main carriage gate. One, Keziah Perry, was said to be the first one buried in the downtown cemetery; one would suppose she'd be the first to be laid to rest in Dell Park. Others bought lots; the first was purchased by Nathaniel Carter for $4, the tombs along Cemetery Street were sold for $12-$15, and the Walcotts bought their lot for the incredible sum of $158. Speaking of the Walcotts, Boyle said that they were buried with their feet toward the center of the lot, so that when Judgment Day arrived and they were raised from the dead, the first person a Walcott would see would be another Walcott.
Space was set aside for a soldiers' lot, and that can be seen today, marked by the flagpole. As time passed, according to Harwood, the original Dell Park lot was expanded; some folks were buried on the outskirts, a bit lower than their neighbors (and some toward the dell), which gives Old Dell Park a sort of terraced look.
As the century progressed, and more of Natick, greater and lesser, went to their final reward, expansion became necessary. In the spring of 1890, the Dell Park Cemetery Association was incorporated by the General Court of Massachusetts and assumed operation of the cemetery from the town. The group acquired Lakeside Cemetery later that year, and renamed it New Dell Park.
Over the years, the association has maintained the grounds and has tried to keep the cemeteries looking as serene and beautiful as possible. For the cemetery's 150th anniversary in 1999, the group dedicated new granite pillars at the western entrance of New Dell, while the two carriage entrances at Old Dell and New Dell, a gift from cemetery trustee Nathan Goodnow in 1903, were refurbished.
According to Harwood, the association has made a lot of improvements over the last 10 years, including the pillars and having all the roads in New Dell paved. "You try to make it a little nicer, and not to have people hit potholes," she said.
In addition to the roads, New Dell also has space reserved for crematory urns and a lot reserved for children. Currently, the association would like to plant and maintain the trees in both cemeteries, and could use some more donations.
"How do you get people interested in a cemetery?" said Harwood. "To get them interested in upkeep and maintenance … [You look around] and [the cemetery] reminds you of those who've been here. … People still come here for the quietness, and people are getting more interested in the carvings [on the headstones]."
Whether it's for the carvings, the solitude, the history or the look over the water, Dell Park remains a treasure for Natick. For more information, call the cemetery at 508-655-1271; to make a donation (which is tax deductible) for the tree-planting program, or for written inquiries, send them along to: Dell Park Cemetery, P.O. Box 84, Natick, MA 01760-0004.